The Chicago Bulls have prepared all summer for the absence of starting point guard Lonzo Ball. Set to undergo his second knee surgery in eight months, Ball would not concede the entire 2022-23 season as a loss but his head coach, Billy Donovan, had no such qualms about facing that possible reality.
This offseason saw the Bulls go about reinforcing a guard rotation that boasted depth to begin last season but was spread thin by year’s end.
They have added Goran Dragic while retaining Coby White. The Bulls also have Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu available, though there is some thought that both profile better as wings that lead guards with White in a similar boat.
That could leave room for the Bulls to kick the tires on veteran guard Kemba Walker.
Bulls a Fit for Kemba Walker
“With Lonzo Ball still dealing with knee issues and in danger of missing the entire 2022-23 season, the Chicago Bulls could possibly look to add a little bit more talent in their backcourt, writes Brett Siegel of Sports Illustrated. “Seeing as they signed Dragic this offseason, it is definitely a long-shot to believe that the Bulls will view Kemba Walker as someone they need, but you can never have too many experienced ball-handlers on your roster that know what it takes to win.”
Walker’s career has taken quite the downward turn over the last few seasons since he was traded from the Charlotte Hornets. After making at least 60 appearances in each of his first eight seasons – four times making at least 80 with all being starts – he has failed to do so in each of the last three years.
Even worse, his appearances are still trending in the wrong direction with 56 games in 2020 falling to just 37 appearances this past season. He averaged 11.6 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while shooting just 40.7% from the floor (36.7% 3P) for the New York Knicks in 2022.
Walker was traded on draft night to the Detroit Pistons along with rookie big man Jalen Duren for a 2025 first-round draft pick and a trade exception.
There has been some talk of a potential buyout coming but nothing has materialized to date.
Getting Walker to the Bulls
It is no secret just what the Bulls have to offer. Nor is their aversion to paying the luxury tax. That being said, there is still a reasonable path to acquiring Walker even if he is not bought out by the Pistons.
Chicago could send White to simply satisfy the salary-matching rules.
The real question is whether or not they truly want to given Walker’s personal injury history and what the Bulls are going through right now with Ball. It was not that long ago that fans were scarred by the end of the Derrick Rose era in Chicago. And the point guards that have followed have all seemingly been snakebitten.
For whatever it is worth at this point, Ball did express the utmost confidence in his doctors and that he would be able to return to full health when all is said and done, though he did add that he would not rush back from the third surgery on the knee since he entered the NBA.
Walker a Last Resort
The Bulls should be plenty deep enough to withstand Ball’s absence. Listening to Donovan, they are planning on not having him for the entire year. That means they aren’t likely to be too aggressive in moving on a player like Walker, especially if they have to give up assets to get him.
Things could change if he is waived, however, or if Dragic’s 36-year-old legs have fallen off since the EuroBasket tournament this summer.
Even then, the likes of Caruso, Dosunmu, and even White would likely get a shot before Walker.